The wind and brisk weather is cascading over Oxford; the heat has finally broken and I am so appreciative. It means fall produce season, pumpkin spice, cinnamon and crunchy leaves!
There is nothing like the fall to bring out what society calls the “basic” ness. But y’all, it is far from basic to appreciate the changing of the seasons. There are certain regions that don’t get to experience all four seasons, and I am not sure how they survive without all four!
Climate change is quickly eliminating the changing of the seasons; so frequently we hop from summer to winter, and winter to summer, without a glimpse of spring or fall. Every year the changing geography and landscape gets more vivid and I take a longer moment to appreciate the world’s beauty.
There is something entirely refreshing and fulfilling about a new season; it almost feels like a clean slate. A time to check in with your body and mind and re-establish any goals or achievements for the year.
How are you appreciating the changing of the seasons? Are you still holding on to the last few weeks of summer?
I am going full throttle into Autumn and these are the products I am loving most throughout this transition. Check it out!
Stainless Steel Straws
The hype is real with Starbucks eliminating their plastic straws. Let’s be honest, we here at the Paleo community have been in support of eliminating plastic straws long before Starbucks trend. Stay away from the paper straws that disintegrate before you even finish that Pumpkin Spice Latte, and get these stainless steel, easily cleanable straws here.
Perfect Keto Nut Butter
I have talked about how much I enjoy this stuff a lot lately. Nuts can be challenging for me to consume, occasionally wreaking havoc on my skin and on my digestive system. However, this blend using macadamia and cashew nuts is really quite delicious and easy on my digestive system. Use these to make the apple cookie recipe we feature in Coconuts & Kettlebells, the book, for a tasty fall treat.
Smoothie Box, Cacao Flavor
I have been traveling a bit too, and these babies are so perfect because everything is already in a bag, ready to blend. I have always wanted to be someone that was able to meal prep smoothies into their own perfect baggies, freeze them and pull them out when I need them. However, I don’t have time, and I have stopped convincing myself this is a thing. Instead, give me those premade smoothies! Get them here.
Hot Apple Cider
Do I need to even define why this is a go to? Apples, pressed, into a drinkable delicious warm autumn treat. Yes please! I put cinnamon in mine, and if it is hot enough, I will throw some collagen in there too.
Honey Drop Lemonade
During a recent trip to Brooklyn, I stumbled across this bottle of goodness while on a late night grocery and snack hunt while feeling a bit under the weather. I was honestly looking for something non-caffeinated with anti-inflammatory properties. Normally, I wouldn’t consume anything with Stevia before bed, but I made an exception and ended up really loving this stuff. It wasn’t overly sweetened and the combination of lemons, turmeric and raw honey were the trifecta of anti-inflammatory I was seeking out. Do you have this product available in your local stores? I definitely didn’t spot it in Michigan.
Being My Own Coach
Also, I have been really digging being my own advocate lately. I have been in a crevice full of sour mood for a few weeks, and for a justified reason. And it is incredibly difficult to pull myself up by the bootstraps, by myself, out of a depression cycle. However, I have been trying to make a conscious effort in really digging at the supportive voice in my head, and letting this woman be the focus of my consciousness. Support systems really help, but the emotions I am feeling right now really call for righteous acts of self-love and compassion, and these are things I can only pull out of myself.
What are you digging this fall? Have you tried any of the products I mentioned? Likes, loves? Hates?
So I believe there are two generally allocated camps of people out there. Those that want to lose weight because they believe they should weigh and look a certain way, and those that need to lose weight for health related reasons.
The first camp is often fueled by society’s ideal body type, and the standards women have placed on their heads regarding what their bodies should look like. We have all heard stories of women that just want to lose that LAST FIVE POUNDS. I used to be one of them. But I would like to ask you, how important is that last five pounds really? Will it truly bring you happiness? Probably not. Will it make a difference in how your clothes fit? Most likely no. So why do we put ourselves through hell to lose five pounds which is already just an arbitrary number?
Healthy Weight Loss
Those in the second camp are looking for weight loss based on a health based need. This may have been a conversation you have had with your doctor or based on your physiological bodies language to you such as underlying illnesses, you may have been able to determine this was a proper course. To you, I absolutely recommend my program, Weight Loss Unlocked. In this program I detail the following:
- Healthy Weight Loss Goals
- The Metabolic System Basics
- How to Accelerate Weight Loss
- Developing Your Own Personalized Plan
- Quantity and Quality of Exercise Needed
- And so much more.
Get Weight Loss Unlocked here
If you have been dieting and are consistently not experiencing weight loss, the following items could be contributing.
1) You are not healing underlying issues
No matter how hard you try to lose weight, you might not be able to if you suffer from an underlying health condition.
Thyroid diseases like hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are super common problems for people trying to lose weight, especially women.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), and leaky gut are all gut health problems. They might not seem like they are important for weight loss, but they are some of the most important. Without a healthy gut, you cannot absorb nutrients well, or have a healthy hormonal response to food.
Autoimmune diseases are also very important to tackle. The best guide for overcoming them, in my opinion, is Sarah Ballantyne’s, here on Amazon.
Figure out your underlying issues by taking stock of your body. What symptoms do you experience? When? For how long? How long have you had them? Take your answers to google and to the doctor. Get some tests done. Paleo is fantastic for healing, but a more targeted approach can help heal you all the faster.
Then, the faster you heal your underlying problems, the faster you can lose weight.
2) You are Under Eating
People are not wrong when they say that you need to be in a calorie deficit in order to lose weight.
This is one of the reasons paleo can be so great for weight loss: it spontaneously helps you eat less, by being more simple and satisfying than processed foods.
But there is such a thing as over-doing it.
If you undereat, and especially if you do so for an extended period of time, your thyroid gland will slow down. The body starts to burn body fat more slowly because it detects an energy decrease.
Depending on how restrictive you are, your body might even stop burning fat altogether, or will gain it. This is especially common for women. The female body is so much more sensitive to body fat levels (which you can read more about at my post here) than the male body is.
This is a weight loss plateau. The solution? Eat when you’re hungry! If you need more specific advice than that, do not eat below 1800 calories a day, and if physically active, then at least 21 or 2200.
3) You’re stressed out:
Stress, for a third, is also incredibly important. Many studies show that stress, like fitness level, is more important than body fat percentage in promoting health and longevity. For example, some studies show that implementing Healthy At Every Size practices, which means ignoring weight regulation in favor of intuitive eating and living, significantly decreases mortality in overweight adults, and promotes better lab results, health behaviors, and self-esteem than weight loss treatment. For those who are stressed out about losing weight this can be a never ending cycle, try not weighing yourself and paying more attention to how your body feels. You can read more about how the parasympathetic and sympathetic states of the body are influenced by stress and can influence your weight loss.
4) You’re not getting enough sleep:
In 1960, a survey of over 1 million people found a modal sleep duration of 8-9 hours. In 2002, polls conducted by the National Sleep Foundation indicated that the average duration of sleep for Americans had fallen to 6.9-7 hours. Recent data indicate that a higher percentage of adult Americans report sleeping 6 hours or less. In 2005, in the US, more than 30% of adult men and women between the ages of 30 and 64 years reported sleeping on average less than 6 hours each night. This decrease in sleep duration has occurred over the same time as the increase in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes. These studies have shown correlations with hormone leptin, sleep, and weight loss.
Leptin has a distinct diurnal and circadian rhythm. It has minimum values during daytime and a nocturnal rise with maximum values during early to mid sleep. The amplitude of the circadian variation averages approximately thirty per cent. Leptin levels rise during the night to suppress appetite while sleeping.
Moreover, with sleep deprivation, the reduction of leptin at night spells bad news for the rest of the day: it sets the individual up not just with lower leptin levels in general but also decreased glucose tolerance and an increased craving for carbohydrates. So not only are our bodies hungry, but they are craving foods that are less nutrient rich.
Putting away electronic devices or wearing blue blocking glasses before bed can help melatonin production which will help you fall asleep easier as well. You can learn more positive sleep hygiene tips here.
5) This is the weight you’re meant to be:
Just because your body might not burn through fat as efficiently as someone else’s doesn’t mean they are more healthy than you.
If there isn’t an underlying health condition associated with fat storage, it may be a simple matter of genetics, the quality of nutrition and a body type you had as a child growing up, or of having a history of dieting (which so many of us do), which leads to slower fat burning mechanisms in the long run.
It is also incredibly important to bear in mind that fat cells don’t go away once created. They can shrink, but they never go away. This makes it much easier for people who have been overweight in the past to keep weight or to regain it once they’ve lost it. This has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with the biochemistry of fat storage.
But by and large, you may just be at a satisfactory weight especially if you do not have an existing or underlying health conditions. I know it is scary to approach the thought that you just may not be destined to be a size zero, but that is OKAY. Body types vary, and that is what society doesn’t show us. It also doesn’t show us the extremes that it may take to maintain that size of body.
All I ask, is that you consider this on your weight loss journey: How important is this weight loss to the grander scheme of life and my purpose in life? Will losing weight allow you to achieve your goals and make shit happen? Is this something I am doing for my health or to live up to somebody else’s expectations of who I should be?
If I had a dollar, or even a penny for every time I have heard that rest is a crucial factor in keeping our bodies and minds stable and functioning, I would be entirely too rich for my own good.
We hear this from medical professionals, our friends and family, blogs, and people we may not even know that well. Everyone tosses around the word “rest” like it is something easy to obtain. However, I find it quite challenging to hit this idealistic state that is rest. (hello insomnia).
We are culturally and socially programmed to believe rest is not okay. Success comes to those that don’t rest, not those that do. Every seen that quote, Beyonce has the same amount of 24 hours of day as you? I had a therapist at one point suggest I rest more, despite the counterculture characterization that comes with resting.
Well big news loves! It is possible to rest in a way that won’t consume your entire weekend, or force you to cancel plans, and I am not talking about meditating either.
The Truth about Rest and Digest:
Rest and and digest is a common phase thrown around describing the state you should be in when you are eating. We want to be in a rest and digest state to avoid causing digestive issues or inflammation from eating too fast, while stressed, or on the go. But what does this really mean? And why is it important to be in rest and digest while eating?
Rest and digest is a term describing when your body is in a parasympathetic state. This is the opposite of the term “Fight or Flight” which is when our body is in a sympathetic nervous state. Read more about this, here. Like all things with our bodies, we need a balance of both states to maintain optimal health.
When our body goes into rest and digest, which can happen after eating, our body is able to restore and repair itself. When activated, the body has the following physiological responses:
- Slower breathing
- Relaxed muscles
- Heart rate drops
- Saliva is increased
- Pupils constrict
Why is the Parasympathetic Rest and Digest State Important?
When we are relaxed we aren’t consistently shooting adrenaline throughout our body causing an inflammatory response. Our body is able to maintain a balance that keeps us healthy. Being in a parasympathetic state can reduce stress on our heart, chronic illnesses, immunity in general to name a few.
Parasympathetic states also affect our metabolism. When we are in fight or flight mode our cortisol is spiked, causing the blood sugar to spike. This can lead to weight gain.We know that stress can lead us to carry weight in different areas of our body. This stress weight is often related to being in a highly functioning yet overwhelming sympathetic state.
To read more on how this can affect our metabolism and other systems, check out this post.
What is Sympathetic State:
Sympathetic state is what we often refer to as Fight, Flight or Freeze. This is the state our body naturally goes into when we sense danger. This can be as minimal as something like seeing a gardener snake on a trail ( so minimal, I know ). Our body may tighten up, we recoil and run or fight. We often feel a burst of energy, or adrenaline as the body initiates this reaction in a moment of danger.
However, we can also be in a sympathetic state in a less obvious moment of danger. Stressed at work? Home? Feeling overly fried? You could be extended out of the sympathetic state. The longer we are in sympathetic state without a balance of parasympathetic states, the closer we creep to what’s known as collapsing.
Sympathetic State Physiological Responses
- Clenched muscles
- Fast talking
- Pupils dilate
- Heart pumps faster
- Gut is inactive
- Thoughts that others are enemies
Why Too Much Sympathetic or Fight or Flight is dangerous
When you are constantly in sympathetic without a return to parasympathetic, your body and mind is put into a state of exhaustion.
Think about a time, maybe work or home, when you supported and cared for everyone else, and met that deadline, only to be followed by a weekend of booked plans, and no downtime in sight. Instead of canceling plans, you pursue on and meet all of your plans and deadlines, but feel yourself wanting to run away and hide to get time to bounce back.
This is your body creeping towards collapse mode. We will get into that in a second.
When the body releases cortisol, it is also stimulating an immune response. If your body is continuously in this state, it is always issuing immune responses. The Paleo Mom has an incredibly in depth article on this that can be found here. She notes that cortisol can affect the way our chemical messengers are transmitting information to our immune system. There are theories that this is contributing to the effect of our immune systems fighting back at us, due to confused signaling from those messengers or Cytokines.
Collapse or Freeze Mode
This system engages when your body is unable to reach a parasympathetic state. I have seen colleagues and students in these positions many times, using caffeine and reducing their sleep quality and quantity to complete as much work as possible.
When you are in collapse mode, your body is forcing you to rest. Collapse is often used interjectly with freeze, in reference to fight or flight. Collapse or Freeze is what happens when Fight or Flight is not engaged fully, but your brain is fully trying to complete the cycle of Fight or Flight. This is your body conserving all energy so when the “fight” is over, you are able to go find help when it pushes more cortisol throughout your system.
Putting it together:
We ALWAYS talk about how stress and lack of rest can contribute to so many dangerous ailments and conditions from autoimmune to physiological distress. There is proof that being in a highly stressed state, even if it is your normal functioning state, can be seriously detrimental to your health.
The Benefits of a regulated nervous system include
- More stable blood sugar
- Better overall energy
- Better Sleep quality
If you want to read more about hormones, stress, and your health and happiness, I have a whole book on the subject that is – well, it’s the place I went to dump all the knowledge I have about all the things, and what to do about it. You can check it out, here.
Stress is a dangerous thing, and I know it can be overwhelming to manage, but there are ways. Next week we will be discussing easy ways to activate the parasympathetic response system.
For those that are going working through restrictive eating patterns or negative body image, this post may be triggering.
I have definitely put off wearing a bikini, or a bathing suit for that matter, for YEARS, like probably half my life easily. Regardless of my weight or size, I always saw something different and unacceptable in the mirror.How many times have I looked back at photos of myself being extremely thin but also extremely unhealthy and unhappy at the same time, knowing my thoughts went something along the lines of:
“If I lose five more pounds I will be happier”
“Why can’t I work harder to maintain a fitter thinner shape?”
“I will never be strong or thin enough”
“I would give up blankity blank blank if only I could be my goal weight”
I look back on a lot of these mindsets and cannot help but face the overwhelming sadness and pain I was going through, and how I am incredibly happy and relieved to be at a place where I can respect and love my mind and body together.
And that includes wearing what I want, when I want it, especially if it makes me feel sexier and more confident in my own skin. This is because everyday is a new day to continue to implement this healthier mindset, or not. And in order to continue on this path of grace and self love, I have to work at it.
In this instance, working at it means wearing my bikini. If you have been in a similar pattern as me, please read through a few of these reasons (amongst many) why you should give society’s idea of a women a big ole adios and put on that bikini.
1) Because if you want to wear the bikini, you should wear the bikini:
Seriously let’s cut the crap. Why are we still caring what others think of what we are wearing?
2) Because its hot!
We already have to wear bras, why are we subjecting ourselves to more torture by wearing more clothes than necessary when it’s hot out!
3) Because the styles available are endless:
Check out Swimsuits For All for styles that look great on everybody.
4) Because you can embrace and love yourself in a bikini regardless of your weight:
This is possible, but it really starts with taking care of your mind body connection. With a more confident and accepting mind, you can learn to love your physical appearance too.
5) Because you may just love it :
What if…. just what if…. you put on that bikini and you feel damn good! Think of all the years you have been holding back, and just try it out. You may really love it.
6) Because you need Vitamin D:
We all need Vitamin D . If you’re going to be outside why not multitask and wear that bikini and get the Vitamin D you need at the same time! Just don’t forget the sunscreen, it doesn’t prevent the body from absorbing Vitamin D, just preventing sunburn!
Did I convince you? Would it help to know I wore a bathing suit while writing this for you? I am serious about eating my own dog food, loves!
If you are struggling with repairing your body image or are interested in losing weight in a HEALTHY sustainable manner, you can check out my program Weight Loss Unlocked here.
I also have a plethora of resources for increasing your body image. Check them out below.
My fave self love and self help books : http://paleoforwomen.com/resources/#selflovebooks
5 Things You Must Know About Self Love
My Favorite Self Love Resources
5 Habits Preventing You From Cultivating Self Love
Overcoming Self Sabotage
Self Love and Weight Loss: Enemies or Bedfellows?
Our body uses its own particular language to communicate problems to us. This may be in the form of an ache, pain, or of all things, a pimple. Our body is literally trying to talk to us to tell us something is not aligning with our physiology, and we need to learn that language.
It may be difficult to decipher this language, but no worries I’ve got your back!
We now have enough science and research behind us demonstrating that the locations of our breakouts can be caused by certain things.
For instance, if I eat dairy (an inflammatory food for me) I break out around my chin or jaw line. This is something that took me a decent amount of time to comprehend, but now that I have, it is a very reliable way to understand my skin.
So, what are the main things causing breakouts?
Acne primarily originates from two things, our diet and our hormones.
How Hormones Affect Our Skin
The most problematic hormones for your skin are the male sex hormones, called androgens a group. The two most prominent ones are testosterone and DHEA-S.Testosterone is a male sex hormone that you’ve probably heard about. It’s produced in reproductive organs in every body, though at much higher rates in men than in women. DHEA-S is not a sex hormone. It is produced by the stress glands (adrenal glands) in the body. But it resembles male sex hormones so much that it has androgenizing effects in the body. The body has unusually high concentrations of androgen receptors in certain areas:
- around the mouth
- the chin
- the jaw
- the forehead
- the shoulders
- upper back
So What Does This Mean?
Androgens or male sex hormones cause the body to do two things, make more sebum than what is normal, and boost skin cell growth rates. Too much male hormones means too much growth. Too much male hormone power in the blood means too much growth. When these growth processes occur with too much frequency or intensity, acne develops.
Check out my article here to learn more about whether you may have too much testosterone.
When we are able to eliminate hormones as the cause of our breakouts, (check out my program Clear Skin Unlocked if hormones could be the primary factor causing your breakouts.) we can then look at the next most inflammatory thing, our diet.
Dietary Factors Causing Acne
Unfortunately, there are a lot of dietary reasons we could be breaking out. A lot of them stem from causing inflammation in our bodies. The following are some of the main dietary reasons we develop breakouts :
- A diet high in omega 6 fats
- A diet high in deep fried and fried foods
- A diet that includes trans fats
- A diet low in omega 3 fats DHA and EPA relative to the amount of omega 6 in the diet
- A diet high in refined and added sugars
- A diet high in grains or dairy
I know this seems like a lot. If you have been following a paleo diet then most of these will not be an issue for you. If not, I recommend starting by eliminating processed foods, and go from there. I have more tips on how to do this, located in my program Clear Skin Unlocked, here.
So what do the locations of our breakouts mean?
- The Chin and Jaw & Neck : The highest concentration of testosterone receptors are found in the skin here. If you have a hormone imbalance you will likely see pimples in this area in a range of sizes. These can occur often around our menstrual cycles, when our hormones are fluctuating.
- Cheeks : We use our phones a lot, right? Make sure you are cleaning your phone often otherwise you are introducing loads of foreign bacteria to your face here. In addition, if you are smoking, this has a habit of showing in the cheeks because this area is believed to be linked to our respiratory system.
- Chest : Our chest is a very sensitive area that we can sometimes forget about when it comes to washing and cleaning our face and other areas of the skin. Definitely take extra time to make sure you are washing your chest adequately. If that doesn’t do it, and your breakouts are happening in the summer, check out this blog post on other things that may be causing the breakouts to occur.
- Forehead, upper back and glutes : There are also testosterone receptors found in these areas, not as potent as around the mouth. but they are real. This combined with natural sweat and dirt can cause serious breakouts.
So – long story short, we should be looking to our hormones first to understand if we have any imbalances that could be causing breakouts, especially in the jaw, chin, forehead, upper back & glutes.
Here are a few more resources for understanding hormone imbalances and what your breakouts mean:
Hormone Balance and Inflammation
Cystic Acne and Hormones: Everything You Need to Know
The Ultimate Hormonal Acne Treatment Plan
5 Signs You Suffer From High Testosterone
Then, we look to our diet.
As we pay more attention to our skin and the contributing environmental and dietary factors in our life that may be influencing it, I promise it will become easier to understand and recognize where these breakouts are coming from and why. I am a big fan of journaling, especially to notice stress levels which could really be causing inflammation to spike.
Best of luck, and as always, I am always here.
Here I am, thinking about how only a few months ago I had my winter skin regime down to a science. I had found the perfect combination of skin products to use and when to use them. Then, summer comes along and reminds me that our skin is a living changing organ and that we need to rotate our skin regimes throughout the year.
The changing of the seasons doesn’t usually mess with my skin, mainly because I have spent so much time testing a regime that works for me. However, the years that spring is non-existent and we leap into summer without warning can without warning, lead to unexpected breakouts.
This is one of those years. I have had several breakouts and have been trying to track all the things that could be contributing to this annoying part of my life.
Diet? Just fine.
Skin care products? Even better.
So what gives?! I am sure there are a few things you can think of that could contribute to summer breakouts. Hotter weather means more sweat, etc. The following are the most common sneaky causes of summer breakouts.
Sneaky Causes of Summer Breakouts
- Sweat : Sweat doesn’t necessarily clog your pores. It is only when sweat mixes with oil and bacteria on your face that these breakouts occur. If you are using a lot of product on your face and are sweating on top of that, all that goodness starts to mix up and get stuck in your pores. If you are in a situation where you need to wear product on your face and happen to be in a sweaty environment, then just make sure you are washing your face afterward with a gentle cleanser. This brings me to my next point:
- Overwashing : When we are sweating and moving all day we tend to feel stickier and like we need to shower more often. This can lead to over washing, which will strip the face of its natural oil causing it to overproduce oil. This reaction caused from unbalanced oil composition can result with more breakouts. Stick to washing your face in the morning or evening, and try to only spot treat after that. If you are curious about other tips for info on keeping your skin clear, check out my program, Clear Skin Unlocked.
- Sunscreen : Sunscreen can be full of ingredients that clog your pores. There was a time as a teenager when I would break out constantly because of poor quality sunscreen. My skin burns very easily and I would grab whatever sunscreen was accessible to prevent this. Because the ingredients in sunscreen vary, the results it may have on your skin will vary. If you are looking for a safer sunscreen that won’t clog your pores, check out this one.
- Sunburns : If you are foregoing the sunscreen all together, then you are probably getting burned or some type of mild sun damage. Sunburns are truly awful for our skins composition. The skin burns and dies and peels off, forcing it to regrow. This may sound like a rejuvenating thing, but it really is forcing your skin into overdrive, drying it out which can lead us back to point 2. If you do get a sunburn, apply aloe as a natural moisturizing remedy.
- Other Foreign Products : Things like bug spray, artificial tanner, heavier moisturizers, and general environmental toxins will cause breakouts, especially with the increased amount of time we spend outside in the warmer months. Try sourcing safer products with non-toxic ingredients when possible, and if not possible, try to limit your exposure to these products.
- Outliers : If none of these reasons add up, I highly recommend checking out my program, Clear Skin Unlocked. My no-strings-attached program can help you decipher whether hormone imbalance, autoimmune conditions, or even leaky gut amongst other things can be contributing to breakouts. Get it here.
My Summer Regime:
I think I may be suspect of overwashing this time around and have been careful to tread lightly around my washing regime. Currently, I have been using the following to keep breakouts at bay:
Lightweight Hydrating Moisturizer : I typically apply a thin layer of this in the morning and it allows breathable moisture all day. Get it here.
Countersun Sunscreen : Beautycounter’s sunscreen is well known for being free of chemicals and junk, and it also doesn’t make me break out which is rare for a sunscreen. Get it here.
Portable Face Wipes : These are great on the go for when you are traveling and may be extra sweaty. I keep these on hand to wipe off my back and chest when I am traveling. Get them here.
Do you get summer breakouts? Is it just me? Let me know what works for your pesky summer breakouts.